Growth in your business is usually a good thing, but seasoned entrepreneurs know the challenges success can bring. From an expanding workforce to a demand for more products or services, knowing how to handle these types of changes can help you avoid disaster. As your business transitions from a small-business setup to a mid-sized business, you’ll want to consider financial implications, keep your employees and customers happy, and really define your growth objectives. Consider the following growth management solutions when expanding your business.
Embrace Change from the Top
In a growing business, change is inevitable. Instead of trying to fight it, embrace it. Market conditions, consumer spending habits, advances in technology, and other factors can quickly bring about chaos and uncertainty at your company if you’re not prepared. One study found that less than 25 percent of change initiatives are successful long-term. Great businesses have leadership who are able to adapt to change and use these challenges to reinvent themselves and their team for the better. As a business leader, you must be strong enough to take an adaptive approach, not overly commit to tradition, and use your experience and knowledge to create new opportunities and transform your company. Fail to adapt and you’ll forever be dealing with the pitfalls of growth.
Focus on Customer Satisfaction
When your business becomes overwhelmed with changes, it’s easy to become lax on customer services. However, it’s important to remember that your customers are the core of your business and your company can’t exist without them. No matter what size growth your business experiences, continue to invest ample resources to ensure that you’re able to provide your customers with the best people, service, and technology available. In addition to having a system in place that ensures customer satisfaction, it is important to stay connected to your customers. Initiate a feedback system via social media or other means to allow customers to voice their concerns and insight.
As a growing business, you need to stay on top of trends and prepare for future needs. Planning is your best skill as you try and anticipate that potential needs of your staff, technology, and business as a whole. Take the time to plan out how you’ll react to certain types of challenges or roadblocks. Determine how you’ll keep an advantage on the competition in terms of delivering the best product or service. Growth management requires that you look at past and current trends to anticipate future progression. Businesses can anticipate customer needs by listening to their requests, observing shopping patterns, and implementing management software.
To learn more about anticipating needs and taking a proactive approach to growth, check out our blog on The 5 Essential Features of a Competitive IT Strategy for Your Business.
Define Your Growth Objectives
Growth management requires knowing where you stand and understanding where you want to go. It’s not only essential that you know your growth objectives, but you also need to be strategic about your growth. To help you determine the best route to your goals, ask yourself some simple questions. Do I have the capital necessary to finance my growth? Am I expanding too quickly? Am I hiring employees too fast? Is my production line efficient? Is my inventory in line with my current and prospective growth? Once you have properly defined your objectives as a growing business, you can better determine your next steps.
Your employees reflect your business at its core. As such, it’s important that each worker is familiar with your business practices and culture, and have the experience and knowledge necessary to perform effectively during periods of dramatic growth. Education through training programs are invaluable for employee development in small to mid-sized businesses. If you talk to any successful business, you’ll often find that management gives full credit to their staff. Employees are critical to a business’s financial growth as they are the ones that communicate with customers day-in and day-out. Always provide your employees with the training and education necessary for positive development.
Engage in Decentralization
Decentralization is a popular organizational structure that consists of delegating daily decisions and operations to middle and lower-level managers. When daily tasks and decision-making responsibilities are delegated throughout a business, top management is better able to focus on the major decisions in a company. The decentralization of command also offers offer advantages, such as the empowerment of employees, burden sharing for business owners, more efficient decision-making, and a more manageable expansion process for growing businesses. In the event of an illness or other emergency, having a decentralized structure also allows the business owner to step away temporarily without impeding company operations.
Unexpected costs are one of the biggest budget-busters for a business. To avoid catastrophe in the event of an unforeseen financial problem, streamline your system to ensure that your budget covers these types of issues. You already know that you’re responsible for certain costs, such as rent, human resources, equipment, and office supplies. You’ll also want to set aside funds for unexpected costs, such as for malfunctioning equipment or other emergency situations. In addition to anticipating costs, you’ll want to set some detailed goals for cost-cutting and determine ways to avoid overspending.
Devote Time to the Future
Most up-and-coming businesses focus only on the present. When you’re so busy with day-to-day operations, it’s easy to lose sight of your long-term goals. However, taking the time to think about your future can help your business grow and reach these objectives even faster. How do you envision your business operating in 1 year, 2 years, or 5 years down the road? Once you’ve defined your goals, you can determine how long it will take you to accomplish each one. You can also put aside time and money each week to work toward these priorities.
Analyze Applicants Constantly
With a growing business often comes the need for more employees to handle the extra workload. When your business grows too quickly, you may be forced to hire employees on the fly without the proper application processs to filter out the bad candidates. When this type of situation occurs, you risk having employees without experience, who are not trained to quickly fill orders, and, consequently, customer service that is simply not up to par. It’s crucial to take the time to learn about your applicants before hiring. Have a consistent and detailed interview process in place to ensure that new employees can handle the work required for your growing business.
Expand Your IT Infrastructure
As sales rise and customer bases grow, small businesses often seek new places to do business, either onsite and/or online. This expansion requires an IT infrastructure to support it. Rapid growth of a small business can present several challenges, but also opportunities. As businesses grow, they need to modify their networks to support an increasing number of users and applications. When you delay expanding your IT infrastructure, you risk dropped connections, sluggish page loads, and other negative IT issues. As part of your growth management solutions, aim to create networks that are structured for security and performance.
As your business grows, supply and demand significantly increases. To keep up with consumer demands, you’ll need to offer more products or services without sacrificing quality. To ensure that employees are not delivering below-par service, a sufficient amount of employees and resources are needed. For employers, this means taking control of the budget, inventory, and other factors that could affect production. If you become overwhelmed with all of these responsibilities, you may find it helpful to outsource some aspects of your business or delegate certain responsibilities to other departments without overworking others.
Don’t Compromise Reputation
No matter what type of business you run, your reputation is everything. Maintaining integrity allows you to better cultivate your reputation which will help you expand your business for years to come. While it may be tempting to cut corners to achieve quick benefits, this success is often short lived without a solid reputation.. Honesty is what most consumers look for when dealing with a company. Remain ethical with all of your business transactions and lasting success will soon follow.
As the heart of your business, your employees must be properly cared for to prevent a high rate of turnover. Currently many small businesses believe that they can’t afford to provide their employees with benefits. However, incorporating benefits such as health care and retirement plans into the budget create a major incentive for top-quality applicants. Interestingly, studies have shown that pay is not the top priority for most employees when choosing a company to work for. Take the time to understand the nuances of both required and optional employee benefits. Higher-earning employees often have other priorities, such as the culture and values of the organization, as well as other important perks of a job like health benefits.
Eliminate Business Burnout
Business burnout is a major problem that you might not recognize until it’s too late. Physical, emotional, and financial burnout often occurs during the first stage of business growth and can develop slowly over time. Many things can cause burnout, from working too many extended hours to sleeping too little. For successful growth management, find ways to eliminate burnout and the negative consequences it brings. As a business leader, it’s important to keep yourself healthy and allow other people to help you. Performing 40/20 cycles which consist of 40 minutes of focused work followed by 20 minutes of collaboration may be a good option to help maintain an even keel and avoid business burnout.
Know Your Cash Flow
Cash flow forecasting skills are an essential tool for businesses of all sizes. When you have up-to-date financial information pertaining to your business at your fingertips, you’re better equipped to make decisions as they occur. Know in real time when and how much money comes in and if you have enough cashflow to cover your normal business expenses as well as any unexpected expenses. Wise business leaders have savings available as part of their growth management strategy to ensure that money is available to cover nearly any type of emergency that may arise.
Establish Your Brand
Building a brand is one of the most important parts of growing your business. Your brand should be easily recognizable, such as the McDonald’s golden arches or the Nike swoosh. When someone hears your business name or sees your logo, they should know what your business provides in terms of products or services. As a small business, you’ll likely be competing against larger companies with loyal customers. As you build your business, you must find ways that you can differentiate from your competition. Brand building doesn’t happen overnight and requires a long-term effort and the formation of lasting relationships with your customers. When you have a solid, recognizable brand, you’ll correspondingly see an increase in projects and sales.
Change for a Successful Future
As leaders in small businesses, we often find ourselves asking how we can grow our business. Once growth happens, it can be difficult to keep up with challenges that develop. Having a growth management system in place is key to handling problems efficiently without causing your business to struggle. Remember that change is inevitable so you must learn to stay in front of the curve through careful planning and preparation. Embrace change as an opportunity and continue growing your business. As you gain new insight and tactics for managing your growing business, embrace the challenges of change and enjoy the fruits of your company’s continued success.